Dáil Éireann - Volume 51 - 25 April, 1934
In Committee on Finance. - Vote 32—Office of the Minister for Justice.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Ruttledge) Minister for Justice (Mr. Ruttledge)
Minister for Justice (Mr. Ruttledge):
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £23,058 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1935, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire Dlí agus Cirt.
That a sum not exceeding £23,058 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1935, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Justice.
The practice on this Vote for some years past has been that a brief outline is given of the various branches of the  Department and that the discussion on a particular Vote is allowed to go over all the ground that may be covered by this Department. As Deputies will observe, it is anticipated that the cost of maintaining my headquarters' office—Vote No. 32—will be substantially less this year than in the preceding year. Savings are also being effected in the Vote for Prisons, Vote No. 34; the Vote for the Supreme Court and High Court, Vote No. 36; the Vote for the Land Registry and Registry of Deeds, Vote No. 37; and the Office of Charitable Donations and Bequests. The District Court Vote, No. 35, and the Public Record Office Vote, No. 39, are practically unchanged; whatever little change there is is on the right side. The Circuit Court Vote, No. 38, shows a comparatively small increase. None of these variations is of any importance; they merely reflect the ebb and flow within a small compass, which is always to be expected.
On the administrative side, as on the financial side, there is nothing of importance to report as regards these offices; they continue to do their work to the general satisfaction. The courts are, as a whole, more up to date in their work than courts of justice in most countries usually are; the only arrears are those in the Circuit Court in Dublin and in the hearing, in the High Court, of appeals from the Circuit Court. I hope that before the Long Vacation arrives legislation will have been passed which will remedy these defects and also some other points in the judicial system which have been the subject of complaint.
On the whole, however, speaking after a year's experience as Minister for Justice, I feel that the machine generally is working satisfactorily. The only Vote in the group which unfortunately represents a serious increase on the charge on the taxpayer and which, unfortunately, also reflects a state of affairs from which nobody in this House can derive any pleasure, is the Vote for the Gárda Síochána, Vote No. 33. The estimated increase in net cost as compared with last year is £70,460. That increase will not come in any way as a surprise to  Deputies; its existence and the reasons for it were fully explained and discussed on previous occasions in this House—most recently when a Supplementary Estimate in respect of last financial year was presented to and passed by this House some months ago.
With regard to the details of the Estimate for the Office of the Minister for Justice, the reduction of £2,076 as compared with the Vote for last year is almost entirely under the heading of salaries for Headquarters' Staff. It is accounted for mainly by the abolition of the post of Second Assistant-Secretary (£907), the reduction of the number of junior executive officers by one (£335), the reduced provision for bonus (£616), and the transfer to the Revenue Department of two clerical officers, who were seconded for service in the Customs and Excise. Of the two clerks in Habitual Criminals Registry shown on the Vote for last year, one has been transferred to the Gárda Síochána Vote and the other is shown as a clerical officer.
Ministerial control of the various services of the Department of Justice —including Police, Prisons, Court Officers, etc.—is exercised through the Staff, for which provision is made in this Vote. The District Court Branch, which is shown separately, controls the work of the District Court Clerks throughout the country and checks the receipt of all fines paid in District Courts, Circuit Courts and High Court. These amounted to about £10,000 last year. In addition, the sum of approximately £1,280 was transferred to the Exchequer in respect of fees received in cash in the Dublin Metropolitan District Court. The Accounts Branch, also shown separately in the Estimate, is responsible for the payment of the salaries and expenses of the Gárda Síochána, the Prisons, the District and Circuit Court staffs, the Land Registry and Registry of Deeds and the Supreme Court and High Court of Justice. All the accounts work connected with the activities of the Department is performed by this Branch.
 The only staff provided for outside Dublin is in the Immigration Office at Cobh. A full-time officer is required there to carry out the provisions of the Aliens Order, 1925, made under the Aliens' Restriction Acts, 1914-1919. He is assisted by a part-time assistant, who is paid an inclusive allowance of £100 per annum in addition to the salary he receives from Vote No. 35 as District Court Clerk.
In addition to the provision of £1,620 in sub-head A (2) for the Film Censor's Office, the expenditure in connection with this service is estimated to amount to £521, as shown in Note K on page 107 of the Estimates. The fees received in stamps (i.e., the fees charged for film-censorship) are, however, estimated to amount to £2,500, so that, allowing for overhead charges, such as the time of the staffs in various Departments who are occupied in connection with film-censorship and for provision for insurance of films and machinery, consequential damages, etc., this service is in fact self-supporting. It has not been considered necessary to increase the scale of fees since the introduction of machinery for the censorship of “Sound” films.
The items of expenditure provided for in sub-heads B, C and D are self-explanatory and do not call for any comment.
General Mulcahy General Mulcahy
General Mulcahy: The Minister, in his general remarks, referred to the great increase in the amount of the Vote of the Gárda Síochána—£70,460— and said, very truly, that no one in the House will get any pleasure from considering that increase. He said that the reasons for the increase were fully explained on previous occasions, and on a recent Supplementary Estimate. Surely, the Minister will admit that there are few items in the Estimates that, as a matter of general policy, from the point of view of public confidence, could better, or had better, be lingered over in an explanation by him than the great increase in the amount of money voted for the police force. I suggest that the reason the Minister slurs over the increase in the Police Vote is that the Minister does not care to turn around and discuss it, because it would  be too unpleasant and too unpalatable a matter for him to discuss, and, perhaps, too difficult. I propose to draw the attention of the House to certain things in connection with the Minister's Department and the administration of the police, for the purpose of seeing if we can find out where there is located, either in the Ministry or in the general headquarters of the police, the centre that must exist there of spite, insolence and incompetency, that shows itself in the working of the police force in certain ways throughout the country. I will read the House here an affidavit relating to an incident in Cork. The affidavit reads as follows:—
“I, John Murray, of 109 Dillon's Cross, Cork, aged 21 years and upwards, make oath and say as follows:—
“(1) In the month of January, 1934, three men, two named Curtin and one named Aherne, came to my parents' house where I reside, at night, and committed an armed raid, and endeavoured to murder me. They were charged before Constitution (Special Powers) Tribunal, convicted, and sentenced to imprisonment.
“(2) In the same month James Kendillon, Stephen Walsh and John Condon came to my said residence and fired shots at the house and into the house, and wounded a man inside named Robert Peglar, who was a friend of mine. The said men were charged and convicted before the said Tribunal and sentenced to imprisonment.
“(3) After the events set out in paragraph (1) hereof, the police authorities placed a guard of police, which included two uniformed men and one member of the special branch lately recruited. The surname of the member of the special branch was Flaherty.
“(4) Since the events up to the night of the 7th April, 1934, hereinafter deposed to, the house has been guarded whilst I am at home.
“(5) On the night of the 7th April, 1934, or morning of the 8th April, 1934, I retired to bed about 1.45 a.m., leaving two members of the special branch in plain clothes and two  uniformed men on guard. The names of those two members of the special branch are Lawlor and Sullivan. I did not lock the hall door of the house, so as to allow the police an opportunity of entering the house if they wished. When I was about ten minutes in bed, I heard the hall door being opened, and then heard an argument between the two members of the special branch, Lawlor and Sullivan (whose voices I recognised) about a revolver. I heard Lawlor say: ‘I’ll go up and shoot him,’ and I heard Sullivan try to stop him from coming up to me. Lawlor kept on insisting that he would come up and shoot me. I heard them come up the stairs and could see from my bed on to the stairs. Sullivan had a hold on Lawlor and was endeavouring to keep him back, and Lawlor kept on saying ‘I’ll shoot him and put an end to him, and you can give evidence against me then.’ This time Lawlor had a revolver in his hand pointing upwards towards my room. I then saw Guard Seán Kelly try to hold him and prevent him from coming up, and reasoning with him, and finally Lawlor put the revolver into his pocket and said: ‘If I go down without shooting him it will break my heart.’ He went down and went out with some Civic Guard. I dressed and left by the back door of the house and went down to McCurtain Street Barracks, where I complained to the orderly there, and told him what had happened. In my presence he rang Union Quay Barracks and asked for the special branch, and told them what had happened. The orderly also sent a guard to Inspector Diggins' house to report the matter to him. Inspector Diggins came to the barrack about an hour afterwards. I was still there, and spoke to him and told him about what happened and the threatened shooting, and stated I wanted Guard Lawlor taken off my guard. Whilst I was in MacCurtain Street Barracks Detective Sergeant Moore of the Civic Guard came from Union Quay Barracks, and I told him the facts, and then made a full statement thereof to Sergeant McWeeney, and  I told him the facts.
“(6) I am a member of the political organisation known as Fine Gael, and I believe that it is because of my membership of the said organisation that the attempts on my life hereinbefore deposed to were made.
“Sworn at 62 Dame Street, in the City of Dublin, the 13th day of April, 1934, before me, a Commissioner to administer Oaths for the High Court of Justice in Saorstát Eireann, and I know deponent.
“JOHN J. BEATTY.”
Here you have the case of a man murderously attacked in his home on two occasions. On the second of these occasions he was under police protection when he was attacked. He was still under police protection after the second attack. Leaving the door of his house open at night, so that if the police wished they could enter the house and, if necessary, keep themselves warm at the kitchen fire, he finds one of his guards proposing to come up and shoot him—that it would break his heart if he did not shoot him. What on earth is the position among the Civic Guards in Cork or at police headquarters here when in the case of a man, whose life is threatened by his political opponents, Guards are selected to guard him who are political opponents of his; who are so much his political opponents and so utterly unfit, apparently, to be members of any police force, that his life is actually in danger from one of them, and that he would have been murdered that night but for the fact that a second Guard came into the kitchen with him?
The Minister states that this £70,000 is a symptom of things that certainly are very bad and very undesirable and very much regretted by every person in this House. A reason why that sum was required is that there are people in this country whose lives are threatened, whose liberties are threatened, and whose right to go about their business in an ordinary decent  way is threatened. Surely in circumstances like these the Gárda authorities should have very definite principles of thought and action; there should be a definite demand for discipline; there should be some consideration by the responsible Gárda authorities as to the type of persons put on such protection duty and some consideration in that matter for the feelings and the position of the people whom the Civic Guards are forced to place under police protection. Here you have one sample in Cork that illuminates to my mind the whole position there. Quite a number of other matters happening in County Cork and neighbourhood give evidence of the fact that the whole thing is carried on in a cynical and almost in a brutal way. I think it discloses such a state of affairs in Cork that the Minister ought to treat this House to some very serious explanation of it and tell us what change has taken place in the situation in Cork as far as Murray is concerned and, particularly, what steps have been taken to enquire from the police authorities in Cork how it was possible to have a set of circumstances like that. The Cork people may not be to blame. The difficulty that you find amongst the police at present is that they do not know what is expected of them and that brings us to the position with regard to the Minister himself and the Ministry and the position with regard to the Gárda Síochána general headquarters here, and that I think can best be discussed on certain matters connected with myself personally.
At the present moment I have what I understand the Minister and the Gárda authorities would call police protection. At least nine members of the Gárda Síochána and two motor drivers give me full-time attention. Deputy Cosgrave is in a similar position. I probably get the attention of a greater number of men than he does for the reason that on the night on which President de Valera made his famous charge that I was in Glasgow seeing a British Minister, arranging for armed help from Great Britain against some of our own people here, although there was a military guard on my house who, probably, had two revolvers  and a machine gun between them, a policeman was turned out of the Rathmines police station at 11.30 p.m. with a revolver in his pocket, and every hour of the 24 hours of the day since, about 250 yards of the pathway outside my house has been patrolled by a plain clothes policeman in the most ostentatious way. He was no very great addition in the matter of protection. As a matter of fact, what he was intended to do then and since is to protect the President's political reputation while, at the same time, creating as much unnecessary unpleasantness as he could for myself personally. For that reason, I may have at the present moment an addition of three more men—that is for the whole 24 hours one man more than Deputy Cosgrave has. Both of us are suffering the same type of insolence and intrusion into our privacy and the same kind of general personal inconvenience. I deal with the details of my own case because less research is involved.
Let us take just another affidavit which is as follows:
“I, Michael O'Connor, of Number two New Road, Inchicore, in the City of Dublin, labourer, aged 21 years, and upwards, make oath and say as follows:—
“(1) On the night of 17th April, 1934, at about 11 o'clock, I was standing in the vestibule of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. The performance at the theatre had ended. A man entered the vestibule and addressed me, and asked me if everyone had left. I said: ‘Yes,’ and he then said: ‘Is Mulcahy gone?’ I pointed to where General Mulcahy was and said: ‘No, he is talking over there.’ He then said: ‘Can I get cigarettes here?’ to which I replied: ‘Yes, in the café.’ I learned that the man who spoke to me was Guard Maguire, one of General Mulcahy's escort.
“(2) I watched Guard Maguire. General Mulcahy was standing at the entrance to the café, and Guard Maguire walked about the vestibule, went outside the door, almost immediately returned to the vestibule and again asked me about getting cigarettes. I again told him he could get them in the café. He then said  to me: ‘Will you get them for me, because we're scorching this f—— up,’ referring to General Mulcahy.
“(3) I got the cigarettes and gave them to Guard Maguire. I then told General Mulcahy what had happened, and what the man (Guard Maguire) had said.
“(4) On the following Friday, 20th April, 1934, at about 9 p.m., I was again standing in the vestibule of the same theatre, when Maguire came in and approached me, apparently being very friendly, and suggested to me that he had not said anything of General Mulcahy. I told him that I would not make any statement to him. He then invited me out of the theatre for a drink, which I refused. After passing a few general remarks, he went away.
“I make this affidavit from personal knowledge save where otherwise may appear.
“Sworn at 12 Dame Street, in the City of Dublin, this 23rd day of April, 1934, before me, a Commissioner to administer Oaths, and I know the Deponent.
That is the type of person who is on full duty to look after me and my home, and to keep closely in touch with us the whole day long. Let us see what the position is. If I go out of my house at 6.30 or 6.45 a.m., there is a Ford car with its nose just beside my gate, so that its occupants can see up the passage to the house and keep the house well under view. There are probably two detectives in it and a driver, all armed. They have the whole road to themselves. They do not have a placard out—“protection on here”—but, as I say, they have the whole road to themselves. If I go out, they follow me. If I go down town, at a quarter past nine, and, if I walk, the car noses after me down along the road. If I go to my office, the car parks outside the house. If I visit a friend's house, the car parks outside the house. If I go out at night, it is there at 9.15 to 10.15 and at 11.15. p.m. There are three armed men and, as I have said, there is probably a fourth.
After the late Kevin O'Higgins was murdered, guards were put on  Ministers. Military guards were put on them, because it was found that police guards were unsuitable. That continued from August, 1927. When the present Party came into office, a situation was gradually brought about in which guards were left on just two ex-Ministers, Deputy Cosgrave and myself. In June last year, the officer in charge of the guards came to me and said that police were being put on duty in future. He introduced one guard and one driver, and said that these were taking over from the military party. I met the guard; I asked him was he armed and he said, yes. I asked had he any instructions and he said, no. I asked the driver was he armed—yes; any instructions—no. I addressed a letter to the President stating that I did not think that, considering the precautions the Executive Council had been taking up to then for my safety, and without any explanation whatever, the change gave a guard inadequate for the situation as it seemed to me they envisaged it. Up to that time, I had had a car placed at my disposal. It was considered that I should travel as far as possible by car. There was an armed driver, and there were two armed guards. If I went down the country, there was a third armed guard attached, together with a machine gun, and there was a machine gun at night. It sounds rather elaborate—a very difficult thing to live with, but there were conveniences about the house that made it tolerable for the men themselves, and not quite intolerable for me.
In June, as I say, two armed police and an armed police driver were to be put on. The protection was to be handed over to the police. In relation to what was provided for before, I did not think the arrangement, without some explanation, quite adequate, and I asked to be informed what were the instructions given to the driver, and what were the instructions given to the guards; what particular type of danger I was being protected against, and under what circumstances it was considered that the men who were being sent with me might be expected to have to use firearms. Neither the  President nor anyone else was apparently prepared to answer these questions, and I got an answer, more or less by return, stating that the military guard was being restored, and I lived with the military guard for a while longer. True, in August of that year, I was asked to hand up my revolver, for when I came home from the famous Glasgow visit, I was told that a policeman had called to collect my revolver. My time for a permit was up, and I went to the police station in Rathmines to renew it. It could not be renewed there. I phoned Donnybrook station to say that I was sending on the fee, but that it was not convenient for me to call across. I was told that they would be sending a man to collect it from me. I went to Donnybrook police station, and it was confirmed there that the instructions were to take up revolvers, and that they could consider applications afterwards. I said what was the fact, that, if I had a military party likely or liable in any way to incur any risks because of their defence of me, I was going to be in that defence, and that if I was not allowed to have the wherewith, they could take the whole caboosh. However, Donnybrook's instructions were that they were to take up the guns.
I went to the Castle and the instructions of the Superintendent in the Castle were that they were to take up the guns. I went to the Gárda Síochána headquarters and I told the Commissioner that there was a particular type of protection party outside his gate there, more or less on his advice, protecting me and that if I had not the wherewith to protect them if they got into any difficulty because of me, he could take the whole lot. I showed him by taking my gun from my pocket that I was looking for a certificate for a gun which I had and which, if necessary, I was prepared to use. That was all they wanted, he said. A rather interesting sidelight on police administration.
However, time passed and we then had, as I say, the additional plain clothes police put ostentatiously on duty every hour of the day and night outside my house after the President had made his famous Glasgow charge. Then we come to 27th March last. I  was having a game of golf and suddenly the place around rather crowded up a bit. There were unexpected and additional people around. What had happened? The usual two members of my military protection party were about the place but two plain clothes policemen, men who had been on my protection party and had been transferred to the police, came out. They came out to take over charge of me from the military. The military had no information about it. They stayed where they were, and we had a joint military and police party for about 14 or 15 holes. Then we came back to the club. What had happened? There had been sent out from police headquarters a uniformed policeman, and two men who had previously been on my military protection party, and who had been transferred to the police. These had been sent out to bring me home. I wished to have nothing to do with them. I told them if they were police I had no instructions about them, and that if they wished to enter my home they had no permission from me to do so. I went home. Ten days passed. During those ten days I had those police and others with me everywhere I went. Night, noon and morning, they were outside the gate, nosing around the place after me. I had no approach from the Army that the Army men were going. I had no approach from the police that the police were coming. Ten days passed, and I had a ring from a police inspector that he wanted to see me. He came down and told me that he was to be in charge of my protection from the following day. He said he should like to know the day beforehand where I would be going the next day, so that I would be splendidly protected. I asked him “If I am walking down Grafton Street what protection will I have?” He answered. “Three men.” “Will they be armed?” I asked. “I do not know,” he said. I said, “Do you mean to tell me that you—a responsible police officer coming to tell me that I require protection, that you are responsible for giving it to me, and that you are going to give me three men— do not know whether they will be armed or not?” They would be armed,  he thought then. When asked what they would be armed with, he did not know; what they would be armed against—he did not know; under what circumstances would they be required to use arms—he did not know. There would at any rate be three of them for the 24 hours of the day, as well as a few motor drivers!
I was in 5 Parnell Square on the night of the 9th April. I was holding a meeting there. Stones came in through the window. The protection party was outside—the whole lot of them, car and all—but the windows could be broken with perfect impunity. On the other hand, I went with General O'Duffy and Deputy Cosgrave to pay my condolences at the American Legation, and was followed right up to his hall-door by a police car with three detectives in it. I went from that to pay my respects to the Nuncio, and they followed me right up to his hall-door, but the windows of our offices may be broken with the most perfect impunity. Now I want to know from the Minister, if he does consider that protection is required, say for myself, what is wrong or what is difficult about the protection that had been provided so successfully since August, 1927? It was provided because experience of police showed that this was not fair work to have them on, and that whatever inconveniences were run, either by the members of the protection party themselves or by the persons who had to endure it, would be less —they certainly would be less for me —with the military protection party than with the police party. It was the same with any other person who had anything to do with them. If a change must take place, what kind of mentality brings about the change in the way in which the change was brought about—the change to plain clothes police with a uniformed driver? What kind of co-operation could be expected in a difficult and delicate matter like that when the administration is such that the unfortunate police inspector who comes to discuss the matter with me does not know whether his superior authority wants him to say whether the men who are going to be with me will be armed or not? What kind of  protection is it that can allow the windows of the house in which you are sitting to be broken with complete impunity? I would tell the Minister that I walked out of my own house, with my wife, without their seeing me. You cannot have men sticking in a car or hanging around the streets from one end of the day to the other without their minds getting obfuscated in some way or another. They cannot always keep their eyes open. It is a most unfair position to put any police officer in. It is particularly unfair—because the Gárda Síochána have been trained as an unarmed force—to put a police officer into a position where as far as I know, at any rate up to a day or two ago, two 45 revolvers and a machine gun were thought to be necessary.
I spoke of a particular man about whom I made an affidavit. He and another were with my military protection party. There was quite a large number of men on military protection duties with various Ministers in their time. Those men remained until some months ago. I was then able to be told from Press connections that it was proposed to change some of the men on my military party, and to add a person who was going to be a spy on my movements. I did not pay any attention to that, but the change was made. I then went to the officer in charge of the party, told him what I had heard, and asked him about it. I was told that the man who was being added to the party was an ex-officer; that he was an Irish-speaker; that he was in poor family circumstances, and that it would be a charity to allow him to be in any position in which he could get a few little additional emoluments. I had nothing to say. By that statement I was prevented from making any objections, even if I wished to do so. A second man was put on, and I asked to be assured that he was not a man who had fought with the Irregulars. I was told most politely and officially from the Chief of Staff that I could get no official particulars with regard to the men who were on the party. The Minister has now a statement of fact in regard to the  type of person that was put on that duty, the type of person that was transferred to the police for the purpose of acting as the spear-heads, the guides and trainers-in of this new police party. Either the Minister or the Commissioner of Police has, in this matter, shown himself to be brutal-minded and insolent, without any consideration—good, bad or indifferent— for the feelings or the position of persons in public life, or for their families. There has been an enormous amount of incompetence shown somewhere.
If it was not done deliberately, then it was scandalous incompetence, and I think that at the present moment, the full time and attention of about eleven members of the police force is directed to my movements, and to the goings on in my home. I have sufficient appreciation of what Irish liberty is to tell the Minister that I am not going to have that. The Minister may take the police that are hanging around me and send them to find the murderers of O'Reilly, of Daly, and the perpetrators of the Dundalk outrage. If he thinks that any particular person in this country does run a danger of any kind, then he ought to have police with some sympathy for that person. Even if there was no particular connection with the past of himself or his colleagues in connection with the matter, any person who runs any type of danger ought to have a certain amount of sympathy from the police. If they have any opinions as to what private life ought to be, or what liberty ought to be, they ought to try to make the burden of protection as light as they possibly can for those who may have to have it. I would like to hear some explanation from the Minister as to the attitude that has been taken up in this case. I speak of my own case, because it is one I know personally. I think it is a very illuminating case. When you put the Dublin side of things with the Cork side of things, as shown by the Murray case, this House ought to know what the Minister and the police mean, when they talk about protection, when they offer you an extra bill for £70,000, for the  purpose of enabling them to give it to people that they say want it. I move the amendment: “That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.”
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney
Mr. Fitzgerald-Kenney: I think that nobody in this State thinks that all is well in the Department of Justice at the moment. Nobody in this State thinks that the law is being properly and impartially administered, and that the police are, in all respects, doing their work efficiently and well. At the outset, I want to say, that I do not believe that the faults are faults due to the ordinary rank and file of the Guards at all, or to the majority of their officers. I think the administration of the Guards is such —whether they are not being permitted by the Minister for Justice or by those in high stations in their own force I do not know—that it certainly appears that the great change which has come over the Guards is not a change in the personnel merely. It is a change which is due to those in power, a change due to instructions which they must have received. After all, there was one thing upon which all Parties, and upon which everybody who took a real interest in the affairs of this State a few years ago could agree, and that was that we had probably the best, the most impartial, and the least corruptible police force in the world. Though certain men may have been put out, fairly or unfairly, and though a certain number of new men have been drafted in, I do not think the number put out or the number put in is anything like sufficient to bring down the police force, in the doing of its work, in the way it has gone down, and, in consequence, I am satisfied in my own mind, and I believe the majority of the people of this State are satisfied, that there are instructions going out from the headquarters of the Guards, or from the Department of Justice, that the Guards are not fearlessly, fairly and impartially to do their work.
2274 2275 2276
There is a very notorious example of that, which has been already mentioned in this House, and which the Minister has repeatedly tried to dodge. Until he comes out into the open I will on every possible occasion bring this matter up.  That is the extraordinary conduct of the Guards on a certain occasion, in the month of February, in Parnell Square. As to the facts of that happening there is very little doubt—no doubt. The Minister for Justice has admitted practically everything. He admitted in this House that there was a meeting of I.R.A. officers in Parnell Square. He admitted that the Guards knew that there was going to be such a meeting. He admitted that the Guards, with field-glasses, watched what was happening from another house. He admitted that the Guards knew there were going to be instructions given in the construction of land mines, and that a land mine was actually going to be constructed on that occasion for use the next day. None of these facts are in dispute. The Minister admits that everyone of them was known to the. Guards. There was one matter which was a matter of conclusion rather than anything else. It was known to the Guards that a bomb would be exploded somewhere the next day. The only mine that was exploded anywhere in Ireland the next day was the one which was exploded in the streets of Dundalk. If it is known to the Guards that a mine is going to be constructed in Parnell Square; if it is known to the Guards that that mine is going to be exploded somewhere the next day, and if the only mine exploded was the mine in Dundalk, I think the perfectly fair conclusion—in fact, the only logical conclusion—to be drawn is that a mine was constructed, one might say, under the very eyes of the Guards—because they were watching the house in which they knew it was being constructed— and that that was the mine which caused the death—the murder—of an unfortunate woman in Dundalk on the next day; a murder which was occasioned because a son of hers had the audacity to go before the Military Tribunal to give evidence against certain gentlemen, or supporters of the present Administration. We have it that this mine was constructed, that it was going to be used, and that it was used the next day. I ask any Deputies who exercise ordinary reason and intelligence: will they come to any other conclusion, except that that mine was the mine that was used in the  appalling outrage in County Louth? The Minister, on a previous occasion in this House, declared that the Guards did not think it was the same mine. In matters of this nature, every person in the community can draw conclusions just as forcibly as the Guards can draw them. If there are any facts in the possession of the Guards or in the possession of the Minister which would go to show that the land mine constructed in Parnell Square was not the land mine used the next day, let us have these by all means. Let us get any further facts. It is due to the House that we should have the full facts. Until there are further facts brought before the House, if that can be done, there is no conclusion that I, or anybody else, can draw save that this land mine was the mine which caused that diabolical outrage. If that be so, is there not blood-guilt upon the men who could have prevented the construction of that land mine and did not? Is not the responsibility there? A terrible outrage has been committed. That terrible outrage could have been stopped by the Guards and was not stopped. The land mine would never have been constructed if the Guards had raided that particular place upon that particular day. They did not raid it. Why not? Was it the fault of the individual Guards? I do not believe it was, and I challenge the Minister to deny that, in spite of all the knowledge which he admits the Guards had, these Guards were instructed not to raid. They got their instructions when going out. They were told what to do. I am perfectly certain that, if they had been instructed to raid, they would have raided. Because they did not raid, I am perfectly certain they had been instructed not to raid. Who gave them these instructions, I should like very much to know, and we are entitled to know. I am told that that unfortunate body of policemen were taken out of plain clothes and put into the uniformed force. That appeared in the papers. It has been stated also that some three or four of them, as a protest against the injustice of that step, have resigned the force. I do not know whether that is correct or  not, but I should like the Minister to inform the House if it is correct. When a terrible affair like this has taken place, there is no use in making scapegoats of subordinates, because every person in this city knows that it was not subordinates who were to blame. It was the person who gave instructions to them. It is all in keeping with the general policy of the present Executive Council that such a thing should happen. We had it stated plainly here by President de Valera on more than one occasion that he did not mind whether the I.R.A. had rifles or guns of any sort, provided they did not use them in public. It was stated here in this House that the Guards were not to raid the I.R.A. premises for arms. They were to do nothing about their arms unless these arms were shown publicly. The I.R.A. were to be allowed to keep their arms in private. Is it not a part of that policy that they cannot be raided for land mines either? They are allowed to keep as many arms, as they like. The Guards, we know, are instructed not to raid their houses for arms; not to deal with arms at all in their case unless the arms are shown in public. The President has said that more than once in this House. That is the professed policy of the Party and, obviously, in the same way, I conclude—I believe that everybody else in this State concludes likewise— that the Guards have received instructions not to raid for land mines either. With what result? This unfortunate woman was done to death, poor little children, playing harmlessly in the streets of an Irish town on a Sunday afternoon, were terribly injured. And all because instructions had gone from somewhere to the Guards that they were not to do their duty.
When you have a scandal of this nature, it should be probed right down to the bottom. A scandal of this nature should not be hushed up. If the Minister will not come out openly in this debate—he can no longer plead that he has not had sufficient time— if the Minister continues his policy of hushing this matter up, then I shall draw the conclusion, and I believe every fair-minded person in this State will draw the conclusion, that the  blame lies upon the shoulders of the Executive Council themselves. That is, blame for an appalling scandal. It should not be hushed up. If an individual is to blame, let that individual bear the brunt of what he has done. Has there been any inquiry at all? Has anything been done publicly or privately about this matter? We hear of nothing except that nine unfortunate men are made scapegoats of, and I believe that is done because they obeyed the instructions of their superior officers. That is a scandalous state of affairs. How on earth can the people of this State have confidence in the administration of the law, how can they retain the confidence, so deep and so well-founded, which they always had in the Gárda Síochána, if the Gárda are to be prevented from doing their plain and obvious duty by orders that come to them from somewhere?
The Minister some time ago explained that all the persons who had been brought into the new force were to be treated precisely as ordinary members of the Gárda. Have they been so treated? Can things be right in the administration of the Gárda when we have regard to the affidavit made by a reliable person like Mr. Murray? That affidavit was read here to-night and showed that one of the persons put on to guard him is a menace to the life of the man he is supposed to guard. How does such a thing happen? We have had an account, when that very house was fired upon, that there were Guards outside who did not interfere. The Minister, on another occasion, told us that officers were satisfied that it was not wise for them to interfere while a house was being fired at. But here we have it that a Guard—I do not say one of the Guards on duty while the house was fired on, I am not to be taken as making any suggestion that he was one of the two—was struggling with another sent to protect him, because that other was seeking to murder the man they were sent to protect. Has there been any inquiry about that? And if so, what was the result of the inquiry? The name of that particular Guards is mentioned. He was endeavouring to injure, to  murder or to shoot the man whose life he was supposed to be protecting. How long has he been in the police force? What was his training? Why was he sent out on this particular duty? Surely if you are going to give a person whose life is in danger protection, or whose property is in danger protection, as you ought to, it is your simple duty to give adequate protection and to give it to anybody whose life is in danger or considered to be in danger. That is your plain duty. But in carrying out your plain duty you must select men who are prepared to do that duty. If you send men to protect the life of an individual you must send men who are prepared to risk their lives in saving the life of that individual. Thank God there are men in the Guards who are quite willing to risk their own lives, if necessary, in protection of the lives of those they are minding. I am glad to say that in the Civic Guard we have a body of men, and it is only just that you should have such a body of men, who will risk their lives in the performance of their duty. It is from such men that you must select those whom you are sending on protective duties. What is being done, according to the affidavit we have heard read here? You are obviously choosing individuals who are not willing to risk their own lives in the performance of their duties. You are choosing persons who probably, because they are steeped in politics themselves, are an actual menace to the individuals they are supposed to be protecting and guarding. Is it not a terrible thing that from your force, at the present moment, you are selecting such men? I should have said from our force, from the nation's force. Yet you are sending out, as if from this force, men who, instead of doing their duty, are a menace to those whom they are supposed to be chosen to protect.
Another case appeared in the papers the other day in which a District Justice made some very strong remarks. One of your new Guards started a prosecution against some members of the League of Youth. When that whole case was over, the District Justice, in dismissing it, is reported to have said: “It is the  other men you should have in the dock.” There you have a Guard bringing a prosecution against men who should not have been prosecuted at all, according to the findings of the District Justice, and you have men going off scot-free whom the District Justice, after the hearing of that case, said should have been prosecuted. If you are going to allow politics to get into any considerable number of the Guards you are doing a tremendous amount to the detriment of this country. Since you have taken in those new 400 men there are many of them on whom you ought to impress the fact that they should fling aside their politics the moment they put on a Guard's tunic, because politics that twist them in the discharge of their duty are inconsistent with the wearing of the tunic of a Civic Guard. It is perfectly obvious that you have not done that. I am not surprised.
Already in this House I have had occasion to draw attention to the extraordinary way in which the new force was recruited. They were not chosen, or selected, in the ordinary way by the Commissioner of the Gárda; they were chosen and selected by a Deputy, a member of this House. That is not denied. It is not surprising that in choosing and selecting these men that particular Deputy did not look— he would be more than human if he did —at what was their particular suitability or capacity to be members of the Gárda. He looked to see that they were good and staunch supporters of the present Administration. These are some of the first fruits of the present Administration that we are getting. You are destroying the spirit of a portion of the Guards, because I do not ever believe we will destroy the spirit of the whole of the Guards. It is too fine a spirit, too deeply rooted to be forced out and destroyed; but you are undoubtedly attacking the esprit de corps of the Guards. I mentioned a moment ago that the increase in the number of the Guards is very substantial. The Minister, in the opening remarks he made—the only remarks he made upon this large Vote to the Gárda Síochána—gave no reason for the increase. The Minister has never given  any reason in this House for that increase. I challenge the Minister to go through any of his speeches made on the Gárda Síochána Vote, supplemental or otherwise, or on any other occasion in the House, and show that he gave any reason for the increase in the force. While the number of sergeants and the number of officers has remained pretty constant there has been a very considerable change in the number of the ordinary grades. I find that in the year 1931-32 the total number of Guards was 5,443, but I find that we have estimated this year for 5,864. That is an increase of well over 400 men as compared with the figure of four years ago. I remember when the Minister was on this side of the House he used to talk of a reduction of 2,000 in the number of the Guards. In the course of the election speeches all these things were mentioned, and in those days the Ministers used to declare that there could easily be a reduction of 2,000. What attitude are they adopting now? I move to report progress.
Progress reported, the Committee to sit again.
Dáil Éireann 51 In Committee on Finance. Vote 32—Office of the Minister for Justice.